Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Pet Health Tip #6- "Is my pet too fat?"

In the same way that obesity has become a problem for people, it has also become a problem for our pets.  There are several health issues that can arise as a result of obesity.  Several of these health concerns are the same ones that obese people face.

For cats, the major health problem that can arise as a result of obesity is Diabetes.  Overweight cats are at a significantly higher risk for Diabetes than cats that are at a healthy weight.  I will talk about symptoms and treatment for Feline Diabetes in a future post.

For dogs, the main health concerns associated with obesity are Heart Failure and Arthritis.  Just like in people, when a dog is carrying around more weight than they are meant to carry, their heart has to work overtime.  When the heart has to work extra hard, it wears out before it would have otherwise.  In addition, the extra weight puts too much pressure on the dog's joints causing extra wear and tear that leads to arthritis.

Bottom line: Obesity will SIGNIFICANTLY reduce your pet's lifespan.  So, STOP killing your pet with kindness.  What do I mean by that? 

The number one contributor to pet obesity: Feeding your pet people food!!! I hear all the time, "But he really likes it and will throw a fit if I don't give it to him."  First of all, if you don't start, then you don't have to stop.  Secondly, just like a child will choose donuts over green beans, your pet will choose people food over pet food.  There are some perfectly acceptable pet treats that your pet will appreciate that are much more healthy than people food.  Your pet WILL adapt to the change, just be consistent.

I know, I know, the next question is, "How do I know if my pet is obese?"  There is a simple illustration first make a fist.  If your pets ribs look like your knuckles when you make a fist, then it is too thin.  Second, turn your palm face up with your fingers straight out.  If your pets ribs, look like that pads over your knuckles, then it is too fat.  Finally, turn your palm face down with your fingers straight out.  If your pets ribs look like your knuckles, then it is the ideal body weight.  In other words, you want to be able to easily feel their ribs when you rub your hands over them, but you don't want to see their ribs.

Finally, "What do I do if he/she is obese?" 
First, STOP feeding it people food.  Second, cut back on the fatty treats.  By that I mean, things like beggin' strips, rawhides, pig's ears, etc.  There some very good low fat treats that you can use or one of the best things to do is just give them a piece of their kibble.  Also, if you are feeding canned food, either stop all together, or cut it back significantly.  Canned pet foods are much higher in fat than dry kibble.  Additionally, as I mentioned in a previous post, canned food is a major contributor to dental disease.  Finally, just like for people, pets need to exercise.  So, get them moving.  This will not only help then slim down, it will also improve the health of their joints.

Again, a pet at a healthy weight will live SIGNIFICANTLY longer than an obese pet.  I don't know about you, but I want my pets around for as long as I can get them!!!

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